The Taliban says it has registered more than 30,000 Afghan families who are in dire need of financial assistance because the main breadwinner has died, most while fighting with the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) or by airstrikes from US-led coalition troops in recent months.
“Yes, we have been registering orphans and the families requiring assistance. The current count is more than 30,000 families, which include 150,000 orphans and dependents. There are thousands of bereaved families who are waiting to be registered,” Syed Azeem Agha, a spokesman for the the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan's (IEA) Commission of the Affairs of Indigent, Orphans and Disabled, told Sputnik.
He says that the Taliban machinery also takes care of “vocational training” of the children so they are able to support the economy in the future.
“We have developed programmes for the orphans and those rendered disabled by war so that they can acquire skills to become tailors, mechanics, pharmacists and carpenters among other vocations. We want these people to be economically self-sufficient,” Agha states.
The claims by the Taliban official give an insight into the insurgent group’s fast-expanding administrative capabilities, as its fighters overrun the positions of Afghan forces across the war-ravaged country.
From Takhar province in the north-east on the Tajikistan border, to Helmand and Kandahar provinces in the south, the Taliban claims to control more than 70 percent of Afghanistan’s territory in 24 of the 34 provinces.
“The Islamic Emirate’s flag is flying in 70 percent of the country at present, which means we already have a tax base comprising people living in these parts. We are taxing the people, agricultural land and have been at major road intersections charging custom duties on goods,” Agha said.
Agha reveals that besides taxing goods and the civilian population, the Taliban also relies on charities from wealthy Muslims to raise funds to meet its needs. “We are also raising money from the companies operating in the country,” he adds.
Although Agha is entrusted with overseeing the welfare of fighters' bereaved families, a majority of the funds raised by the Islamic Emirate is spent on funding the group’s fighters.
“Even though the IEA's budget has constantly increased as our influence widens again, we still don’t have a fixed yearly and monthly budget yet,” he says.
The Taliban official's revelations come against the backdrop of US-led coalition forces accelerating the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan to meet the 11 September deadline, specified by President Joe Biden last month. However, the foreign troop pullout has coincided with the Taliban fighters regaining positions they controlled before the 20-year-old war began in 2001.
The US and its allies are now desperate to prevent the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul from falling into the hands of the Taliban, as Washington already faces hard questions about what it has achieved in the past two decades by its involvement in the foreign war.
“NATO and allies are now working on how to ensure the continued operations of an international airport in Kabul. There were meetings also on the sidelines of the summit today,” the group’s Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, said at a press conference on Monday.